Graduation walk inspiring for Olathe Northwest student severely injured in 2015 accident

OLATHE, Kan. -- A breathtaking surprise came during a metro high school graduation on Sunday.

It was a touching moment that no one in the graduating class, or the crowd in attendance at Olathe Northwest High School's graduation ceremony saw coming.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house. Olathe Northwest student Anna Sarol, along with more than 500 of her classmates, got her diploma at a ceremony on Sunday night.

Four years ago, Anna was injured in a gymnastics accident, leaving her as a paraplegic. The fall she took in August 2015 from the uneven parallel bars left her with a severe spinal cord injury, and stole her ability to walk.

Sarol and her family think of this as a promise made good -- one that she made to herself. On Sunday night, as her name was called, Sarol's four siblings helped her climb from her chair onto her walker, and using supportive leg braces, she brought that football stadium to tears of joy.

"I knew that I wanted this for myself," Sarol said on Monday.

Sarol remembered missing five month's worth of school -- an entire semester -- at the time of the accident. She said she targeted that moment to take those brave steps. All of Sunday night's audience stood to applaud Sarol's inspiring effort. Her siblings were on stage alongside her as the crowd thundered.

"I was very nervous at first. You should have seen me before I even got to the stage. I was a mess. I was very anxious to know what people would think and how everyone would react," Sarol said.

"I was standing behind her to make sure if her arms got weak, I was there to catch her," Kat Colette, one of Sarol's sisters, said. "She has been nothing but iron will and determination and perseverance and inspiration for every single person in our family."

"To be able to see her walk was pretty incredible," Tina Kramer, another of Sarol's three sisters, said. "(Audience members) were laughing. They were smiling as big as possible. It was powerful."

"I feel like my life is completely complete, like I could just die right now and be happy," Sarol said.

This probably won`t be the last celebration for Anna and her family. She`s planning to enroll in college soon, and she wants to work as a motivational speaker, hoping to inspire others not to give up.

Sarol's family said she also continued to attend gymnastics events with her old teammates. She said she's also been working as a youth counselor with the YMCA.

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